Monthly Archives: May 2013

vExpert 2013

Almost exactly 12 months ago to the day I kicked off this site with this article describing my journey in virtualization leading up to my first vExpert 2012 Award. 27 posts and 1 year later I’m humbled again to be awarded with vExpert status for 2013.

The VMware community is unbelievably strong and it’s safe to say that over the past 12 months I’ve made a lot of new friends and been involved in lots of special forums and events as well as being continually amazed by the power of virutalization by way of delivering VMware products and services to clients and being able to get hands on with upcoming product releases.

This is a community award… and in that most of the people awarded the vExpert badge are people that go over and above to share their passion and love of the technology they work with on a daily basis…for the most part the sharing and evangalisation of that knowledge is done in addition to their day jobs…the title of my blog is “Hosting is Life” and in many ways that exemplifies the dedication that this kinda of award entails.

Special thanks to John Troyer for putting this together and VMware for the award…and a special mention to the Australian vExpert list that has more than tripled from last year.

Full List Here: http://t.co/QGZtGudVol

UPDATE:There has been debate/confusion on the credibility of the vExpert class of 2013…the numbers have swelled by about 100 from the 2012 class and with that a couple people are questioning the value of the award. From reading in between the Tweet’s being fired off yesterday it seems that there where about 850 applicants for this years awards so the question of everyone being accepted isn’t valid…however there is danger in the credibility of the award being diluted in the future if tighter selection criteria is not put into place…one the one hand, it’s great to see the numbers swelling because it means that there are more people active in support of VMware in the community, but VMware may need to put a greater emphasis around keeping the numbers tight.


First Look: CloudPhysics Card Designer

The boys at CloudPhysics are working hard behind the scenes at adding new features to their current stable of Analytic Cards based on data collected from their Probe VA’s hooked into vCenter environments.

Check out this post on their DataStore Contention Card:

For a general overview, go here: I am a massive fan of analytics and trend metrics and I use a number of systems to gain a wide overview of the performance and monitoring of our Hosting and Cloud Platform.

A few weeks ago, the CloudPhysics team released to a limited number of users a Custom Card Designer. This pretty much lets you construct custom cards based on a huge number of metrics presented via a builder wizard.

Cards you design and save are listed on the page above. From here you can view your custom cards and edit them if they require tweaking. Once you click the Create Card + button you are presented with a list of property data metrics from which to construct your card.

Properties fall under four main categories and there are a large number of available metrics under each category. The wizard lets you drag and drop items into the builder window. From there you can preview and then save your custom card for future use.

As a quick example I needed a quick way to see which datastores where connected to their respective hosts in each cluster so that consistency in datastore availability was maintained. It was as simple as dragging across Host:Name and Host:Datastore, putting in a filter to only view hosts of a certain name it was ready to go.

You have the option to preview and continue editing, or saving to the Card Designer main page. From that page you can execute the query. The results of my quick test card are shown below.

One thing I would like to see is an option to export the results to a csv or excel document…but other than that it’s a great example of what CloudPhysics is all about…data and how to get the most out of it as efficiently as possible.

How-To: VMware Horizon Workspace 1.0 vApp Install – Part 1

I’ve been waiting to deploy Project Octopus for the best part of 18 months… I’m still actively running the Octopus Beta and for my personal use/internal testing and it’s lived up to expectation for the most. There have been a number of bugs identified and general limitations with the Beta release builds, but all in all it does the job. I was a little frustrated with the time to market for the initial GA of the product, and even more so when it was incorporated into the Horizon Suite of products. Feel VMware has missed getting to a key part of the market with DropBox like clones popping up everywhere of late.

Having just gone through my first deployment of the Horizon Workspace vApp (…and failed) …put together with the fact there isn’t much on the internet in terms of walkthroughs, I thought a blog post would be handy. This won’t be a HA scaled out deployment as I only need to support 100-500 internal users for the moment, but the on-line docs do touch on Advanced Configuration tasks.

There is quiet a bit to the deployment, so this post will only touch on the key points and any additional items the docs don’t cover clearly. While starting to write out this post it became clear this would need to be a multi-parter…in this part I’ll go through initial DNS configuration requirements, deploying the Horizon Workspace vApp and going through the initial configuration wizard.

Initial Design Action Items:

Reading through the online docs the key takeaway is that you need to get your DNS right…that is, allocate the vApp VM IP addresses and ensure the reverse IP’s match up. You also need to think about the FQDN for internal and external access.

FQDN: xx.horizon.domain.com -> (split DNS employed relative to the vCenter/ESX environment to ensure internal and external access is achieved without the VM’s having to route publicly)

 Caution: After you deploy, you cannot change the Horizon Workspace FQDN.

This was the mistake I made which meant I had to redeploy the vApp and get the FQDN right. When it came time for me to publish the gateway-va externally the external host name redirected the the FQDN specified during setup which I configured as an internal address.

Deploy The vApp:

Once you download and acquire the OFV from the VMware Download page, deploying the vApp is straight forward, however one thing to point out is that you need to ensure you have a vCenter Datacenter IP Pool configured so that the vAPP can correctly allocate IP/DNS settings to the VM’s. The OVF deployment screen below, warns you about that.

I had a previous IP Pool setup for my vCOP’s install, but there wasn’t a requirement to populate the DNS settings. That part is critical for this setup to be successful as the vApp will use these settings to configure DNS on the VM’s…without it, the initial configuration will fail due to a DNS lookup error when the configurator VA tries it’s first lookup against the VA IPs. You will need to restart the VA if any errors are detected.

Initial Configuration:

Once the vApp has been deployed you should only have the configurator-va powered on. (do not power on the other VA’s). Log into the vCenter console for the configurator-va and go through the initial Configuration Wizard.

Once enter is pressed the wizard kicks off the the DNS checks mentioned above are executed. You are then prompted to enter in the root password to all VA’s in the vApp (this also becomes you default login password). From there you enter in your SMTP relay, Workspace FQDN and vCenter credentials.

From this point the wizard goes through and configures the remains VA’s, allocates the root password throughout the different systems and creates the SSL certificate services. This process can take up to 30-40 minutes depending on the your underlying storage. Viewing the process through vCenter you can see a summary of what’s taking place…interestingly (similar to vCloud Director managed VM’s) the VA’s management is taken over by the configurator-va and through that all the wizard actions take place.

Once complete you are presented with the message below and you are ready to continue configuring Horizon Workspace from the configurator-va web console.

Part 2 will follow and run through setting up initial Horizon Workspaces users, groups, services and policies.

VMware PEX ANZ 2013 Thoughts – Software Defined Storage

I was luckey to attend PEX at Australia Technology Park this week and thought I would share some of my take always. The venue was a little different to what you would come to expect from a tech event in Sydney… Usually we are in and around Darling Harbour at the Convention Centre… And even if there where whispers of VMware being late to book the event in the city the surroundings of the old rail works in Redfern refurbished and transformed into a spectacular Centre for technology and innovation fits.

There is a fundamental shift happening in how we consume IT and pretty much all leading technology vendors are in the process of embracing that change. VMware have chosen to focus on three key areas and after a few years of letting the dust settle they have three main pillars of focus.

Software Defined Datacenter
Hybrid Cloud
End User Computing

I’ve written about EUC and their Hybrid Cloud Offerings in the past so I’m not going to focus on that in this post…but the one thing I will say is that VMware still have a material understanding of where their partners sit in the ecosystem and still see them being central to their offerings… As a Service Provider guy working for a vCloud Powered provider there is some concern around the vHPC platform that will be deployed globally over the next few years… But we need to understand that there has to something significant in the Public Cloud space in order to compete with AWS and Google … And maybe Microsofts Azure. AWS is a massive beast and will only be slowed by its own success…will it get too big and product heavy… therefore loosing focus on the basics. There has been the evidence in recent weeks about increasing issues with instance performance due to capacity issues.

With regards to the SDDC push … Last year was the year of network virtualisation but what excites me more at this point is the upcoming features around software defined storage. There has been an explosion of software based storage solutions coming on the market over the past 18 months and VMware have seen this as a key piece to the SDDC.

vVOLs and vSANs represent a massive shift in how vSphere/vCloud environments are architected and engineered. Storage is the biggest pain point for most providers and traditional SANs might have well run their race. There is no doubt that storage arrays are still relevant but with the new technology behind virtual sans on the horizon direct access storage will start to feature… Where we had limitations around availability and redundancy previously the introduction of technology that can take DAS and create a distributed virtual San across multiple hosts excites me.

Why tier and put performance on a device that’s removed from the compute resource? It’s logical to start bringing it back closer to the compute.

Not only to you solve the HA/DRS issue but, given the right choices in DAS/flash/embedded storage there is potential to offer service levels based on low latency/high IOP data store design that takes away the common issue with shared LUNs presented as VMFS or NFS mounts for data stores. Traditional SANs can certainly still exist and this set and in fact will still be critical to act as lower tier high volume storage options.

For a technical overview of VMware Distributed Storage check out Duncan Eppings (@DuncanYB) Post here: There is also a slightly dated VMwareKB overview by Cormac Hogan (@VMwareStorage) that I have embedded below…note that it’s only the tech preview, but if it’s any indication of what’s coming later in the year…it can’t come soon enough.

Being able to control the max/min number of IOPs garunteed to VM/VMDK similar to the way in which you can select the IOP performance on AWS instances is worth the price of admission and solves the current limitations of vSphere in that you can only set max values to block out noisy neighbors.

Vendors that are already pushing out solutions around storage virtualization continue the great work…anything that sits on top of this technology and complements/improves/enhances it can only be a good thing.

It’s the year of storage virtualization…

Additional Reading:

http://www.yellow-bricks.com/2013/03/06/why-the-world-needs-software-defined-storage/
http://www.yellow-bricks.com/2013/04/05/software-defined-storage-just-some-random-thought/
http://www.nexenta.com/corp/products/what-is-openstorage/what-is-software-defined-storage
http://cto.vmware.com/2013-predictions-the-year-of-software-defined-storage/
http://virsto.com/blog/the-missing-link-in-software-defined-storage
http://www.nutanix.com/evolution-of-the-data-center/